Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

To me this most likely is going to be the saddest post of the trip. Crater lake is some sort of crater, made by some sort of volcano, lots of snow, very pretty, scenic beauty, blah, blah, blah. If this was Tuesday this must have be Crater Lake.

I was excited to be there, anxious to do some light hiking and enjoy the park. I stopped in at the VC, chatted up the ranger. They actually tried to make me pay $.25 for a map, I told them I would go to my congressman if necessary but I wasn't paying for no stinkin map. They gave me one anyway which was a smart decision on their part because I don't think they wanted a call from Senator Cardin or Mikulski. This park is loaded down with snow, I am not sure the snow ever goes away. There were some trails so I put on the right gear and headed to an easy peak because this park is not known for big mountains.

I hiked at Garfield Peak which was a 700 foot elevation change over maybe a mile. I could do something like this in my sleep so I didn't expect any problems. Maybe 300 trail feet below the summit was an ice patch. This patch had solid foot prints in the snow that probably helped a lot of hikers out in the previous weeks, but yesterday was a different story.

The small patch had gone through a series of melts and freezes, at 11AM the top was melting yet again. The upper set of foot prints were still good, but the lower (right leg) prints had melted away and there was not much room to place your foot. This particular surface was very steep, probably 50% grade so if one would slip they would go flying. I opted to attempt to cross and decided that it was way too dangerous and then had a heck of time turning around. The ice was solid enough so that it was impossible to plant a pole. I made it back to safety and decided to sit down and decide what to do.

At that point a man who had crossed the patch earlier when the ice was more frozen and safer was descending with 2 kids behind him. He confidently strode across the patch and the children followed. About 1/3 of the way across both children had a panic attack, understandably so. The conversation went like this.

Girl: Daddy I'm scared

Boy: I'm scared too.

Cham: I'd be scared too if I were you.

Dad: Come on kids, get going.


Dad: You yelling at me isn't helping.

The father had had the option of walking the kids around the ice but he was too arrogant and pigheaded to ensure the safety of his own children. When the kids got closer to me I notice the boy was wearing high-topped sneakers with the laces untied and tucked in, the girl was also in sneakers. Dad was in hiking boots.

They passed me on the trail, gave me a nasty look and descended. I was still thinking about what to do when a young couple came up the hill. They confidently strode toward the ice floe. I politely told them that it was unsafe and they should not cross the ice. The girl must have thought I was an old fuddy-duddy because she did not heed my advice and confidently strode across the patch while her SO looked on. She got about half-way and stopped. The conversation went like this:

Chick: Come on honey, we can do this.

Honey: I'm not so sure.

Cham: You can do what you want but let's look at the logistics, shall we? You may not slip in which case all is good. But if you do you there is no way to grab onto anything since you are on a watery ice. You will drop down and most assuredly hit that rock directly under the patch hard, then you will bounce off of it like a pinball and drop another 250 feet in that ice chute with more rocks in it. You can do what you want but I hope you have really great health insurance because you may need it.

The girl promptly froze on the mountain, unable to turn around.

I was pleased because I had a ringside seat for the festivities. This was going to be one spectacular fall and I didn't want to miss it. But I felt obligated to at least call for help if she plummeted. So I got out my cell phone and turned it on. I was shocked to see that it didn't have a signal. No signal then no call for help. If this chick was going to need medical attention then I was going to have to get involved and compromise my own health and safety for stupidgirl and her stupiddecision. Oh no, folks, you have the wrong blogger for that!

You've never seen someone put away a phone so quickly and yell, "I'm out of here, good luck!" I have no idea what happened.

But wait, folks, there's more. I got down off the mountain and decided to take a scenic drive and headed north. I arrived at an overlook near a short steep peak called The Watchman. I met a guy, Brian, that I had talked to briefly at the VC, he was about to go snowshoeing. Brian pointed at two hikers that were at the top of the heavily snow-covered Watchman peak and then we noticed they were doing something weird. The hikers were lying down, one of them pushed themselves off the peak and started to slide down the peak on his ass. He quickly lost control. Brian and I, as well as many other people began running toward the base of the peak fully expecting the ass-slider to crash into a rock. By the grace of God ass-slider managed to avoid the rocks at the base and was okay. You would think the second hiker would have learned a lesson. But no, she manages to ass-slide her way down the peak as well, but slower. I've never seen anything so stupid in my life.

So you may ask, why are so many people doing so many stupid things at Crater Lake? I have an answer for you. Because Crater Lake has a national park designation, easy access because of the plowed roads, several lodges and visitors centers, as well as an army of park rangers. People think that taking a quick hike on a well maintained hiking trail would most assuredly be safe regardless of the weather or trail condition. They think, "If this is a National Park then it has to be okie-dokie and I can take any risk I wish because somebody will come rescue me."

And if you are the type of person who believes that and wants to let Darwin take its course, please go ahead. All I ask of you is not to expect me to be involved in the equation. You see, my own health and safety take a huge huge priority over your stupidity. If it comes down between your life and my hangnail, guess which I am going to choose?

Two potential rescues in one day was two too many. I opted to leave the park quickly before there was a third.


Oregon Caves, Oregon

If you are an adult over the age of 5 you might want to skip this one. Although the cave is pretty neat the ranger tour guide screamed at us for almost two hours at the top of her lungs. It got so bad I started recording her shrill voice with the video function on the camera. Tour ranger especially enjoyed listing the many cave rules and making sure we adhered to all of them. She checked and double checked our receipts to ensure there were not interlopers on our tour, then gave us the once over and made sure we had all gone peepee before the cave tour began. It went downhill from there, both the tour and the cave. I thought I was in Hades instead of Oregon. I thought it might just be this one lady but as I left her doppleganger was getting warmed up with another unsuspecting crowd.

Imagine 2 hours of this, an exerpt:

Redwoods National and State Park, California

Back in 1978, Jimmy Carter and friends started mulling over adding several acres of redwood forest to the Redwood National Park. The local loggers got so incensed at this idea that they set up night lights and started logging 24 hours per day in order to harvest as many big redwoods and put as much money in their pocket before Congress got the issue straightened out. Since government doesn't move very fast only 3% of old-growth redwoods are still in existance today, the loggers came within a couple of weeks of taking every redwood that was not already in the park at that time. Loggers are truly the dumbest fucks on the planet.

Near the park is a town called Orick, this town should have about 30 hotels, 50 cappuccino emporiums and 20 massage places. But Orick is still in the logging mindset and is about as forlorn as a town can get. They are still bitter about not capturing that last 3% of the trees. I wanted to see some big trees that weren't on the scenic highway so I got myself a road permit for the Tall Trees Trail. This enabled me to view the Tall Trees Grove which is on about a couple of miles of trail. I met 2 guys who were originally from China, Shilang and Chuck, but now live in California and Canada. They both worked for Intel so we got to discuss my favorite subject, the Intel chipset problem with Delorme software.


Trinidad Bay, California

I had no plans to visit Trinidad Bay. But for some reason after heading north after Arcata I saw a sign and ended up at the beach at Trinidad. This is a small beach community that was host to a hiking trail on a bluff. When I saw that I knew what I had to do. The trail is about a mile long which gives one breathtaking views of the California surf. Fabulous is all I can say. After I got done with the trail I stopped off and bought $20 of smoked salmon at the smoked fish store. The lady there admonished me for eating so much low-grade canned tunafish which is, according to her, way too high in mercury. I promised her I would discontinue the tuna addiction, but it is so good. Pics of Trinidad Bay.

Arcata, California

The light on that picture isn't good because it is 6:30PM and the sun is setting BEHIND me so obviously I am in the Pacific Ocean.

California is so cool. There are all sorts of people here, people on bikes going really really fast, people styling and profiling in their own little way. The food is amazing and all the restaurants offer tofu side dishes. There are thousands of places you can get a massage, a real massage not necessarily the kind you find in Baltimore with the happy ending thing. For every massage place there is also a place that sells espresso, drive-thru espresso.

Today Arcata is having their Kinetic Sculpture race. I realized there was a massive quandry. There is no way to tell who is in costume and who is wearing what they normally wear in the morning. In California you can't tell the difference between the billionaires and meth addicts, and there are a lot of both. So I decided to create a little picture game. You tell me which one of these pictures actually have someone in a well-crafted approved Kinetic costume (only one picture) and which pictures of people who actually choose to wear these clothes as their day-to-day attire.


Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lassen Peak, California

The idea was to head north to Oregon. But off in the distance was a mountain covered with snow and I just couldn't resist. I figured if there was a trail to the top then I was going to climb. Luckily the place was a National Park and there was a trail. I had never heard of Lassen Volcanic but the park had just opened up for the season a few days ago, the campgrounds were still closed. I arrived at the trailhead on Wednesday evening and met 2 Californians who had just descended. I was impressed with the amount of gear they had, special hats, sunglasses, poles, etc. I asked about trail conditions and they said, "Well, you don't need crampons to get to the top but it took us 4 hours up and 2 down."

I was a bit concerned because I don't have special gear but I still wanted to give it a shot. I found a great place in the forest to sleep and sleep I did, about 11 hours of it. When I woke I knew I was getting a late start but I surged to the trailhead anyway. Yes, the trail was covered in snow but, unlike Idaho, Californians do not freak over a few feet of snow. They put these cute little flags in the glacier to mark the trail. The trail was well broken and I had no trouble. I was not on the trail long before I met a German named Wolfgang from Aachen. He was a very good hiker and we teamed up to make the ascent.

It was 2.5 miles up with 2000 feet of elevation change. We made it to the summit after 2 short hours, we took many pictures and talked quite a bit which slowed us down. Wolfgang told me how Germany is adopting many of the American bad habits, forcing the citizenry to pay for their own dental care, university costs and other stuff. They too have an immigrant problem.

I think I am going to stick around Northern California awhile, this place is chock full of parks.

Yosemite National Park, California and the Western States All Point Bulletin

When I did 3 days of backpacking in Yosemite National Park the trip went pretty uneventfully so I was worried that I wouldn't have a good story to entertain the lurking masses. Have no fear, Fruitloop took care of that problem all by herself.

First, let's go start with the backpack. When I arrived at Yosemite I saw the hordes of tourists and immediately headed for the backcountry permit office to assist me in getting away from the teeming masses. Since it was already late in the day and the poor park ranger was looking a little funny at this middle aged woman who was alone, knew nothing of the park and was demanding a permit, it was suggested I try the Big Flats trail so I wouldn't have to travel far and spend the night there. This was a good idea, I left my tent in the minivan because, apparently, it never rains in Southern California. I saw a little bear but he didn't stick around long enough for me to take a picture. The bear cannister is a PITA.

The next day I was ready for something more stressful and the park ranger started to have some confidence in my abilities so he sent me on a 17 mile, 3 day backpack with 5300 feet of elevation change between Yosemite Falls and the Snow Creek Valley. This was a great deal of fun. I started late again so I managed to do 3500 feet of elevation change in slightly over 3 hours with the full pack. I had some fun getting water out of the Yosemite Falls creek near the top where the water goes over the rim.

I met many great people along the way up, the second day I saw almost no one and had lots of time to spare so I got some reading done. The third day I just had 4 miles left and the steep descent. I think I lost another toenail but I don't care.

I keep my phone off when I hike mainly for safety reasons and to save the charge. Everyone knows this and I always make a series of phone calls before I backpack telling people where I am and what I am doing, just in case I need to cut my arm off. Like a good daughter I called Fruitloop and left a message on her machine about the backpack.

Unfortunately, Fruitloop can't seem to work her voicemail properly and claimed she didn't get the message. After Fruitloop doesn't here from me for awhile she goes into orbit and contacts the phone company to get a list of all calls that came to her phone. Mind you, my May 14th phone call is clearly listed on the document but Fruitloop doesn't look closely enough to notice. Instead, she is just getting warmed up. She decides to start contacting the state police in several westerns states so they can put out an APB on myself and my poor minivan. Not totally satisfied with her performance yet she calls my close personal friends, introduces herself and then demands to know whether I have contacted them recently.

Not quite satisfied with all that, Fruitloop sends the Oregon State Police the link to this blog so that they have a clear picture of who I am and what a bad bad daughter I was, and to get several clear pictures of myself. The police officers involved start calling my cell phone and sending my blog address to every podunk town in the Western Hemisphere. Mind you, I am concerned about hit counts but this isn't the way I envision increasing my blog readership.

So I get off the trail yesterday and then listen to the 8 messages on my voicemail from the police, including Fruitloop who is slightly overacting using her worried-helpless-aged-mother voice, she needs to work on that for proper effect. I also get this email sent to my blogger email address:

My name is XXXX XXXXXX. I am a dispatch supervisor with the Oregon State Police. Your Mother has called and is concerned for your welfare as she has not heard from you since 051207. Please contact your parents and let them know you are ok.

We have placed and all points bulletin for the states of Oregon/Washington/Idaho looking for you.

Once you call your parents and let them know you are fine, please call the Oregon State Police @ XXX XXX XXXX and let us know you are ok. This way we can cancel the Welfare Check placed on behalf of your parents.

Refer to our case number SPXXXXXX when you call.

Thank you and best regards,

Southern Command Center
Oregon State Police

So I call this guy in Oregon and tell him to call off the dogs. Fruitloop tries to spin the whole thing saying that I should be glad that I have someone so "concerned" about my welfare. This is the kind of "concern" I don't need.

Here are is the slideshow:

To see pics of Fruitloop cut up into teeny tiny pieces you will have to wait until I get back.

Sawtooth Mountains, hiking Iron Creek, Boise National Forest, Boiling Springs, Idaho

I knew I wanted to go west after Craters of the Moon but I didn't know whether I wanted to go north or south. Keith's wife, Mary, suggested I head to the Sawtooths so off I went. In order to get hiking information I stopped off at the Visitors Center and actually had this conversation:

Cham: I want to know about hiking in the Sawtooths.

VC Lady: You can't hike, it isn't hiking season.

Cham: There is a hiking season?

VC Lady: Yes, it starts after Memorial Day. Right now you can't hike because it is too muddy.

Cham: Is someone going to arrest me if I hike?

VC Lady: No.

Cham: Then it IS hiking season, isn't it.

Apparently, in Idaho, they like to stick to schedules and rules. Since I am from Maryland I see no reason to stick to Idaho's schedule. Not only was it not hiking season but there was some weird rule that all the campgrounds were closed too because it wasn't camping season. But if you camped anywhere else but a campground then it was all legal and okay. Don't ask me about that, it doesn't make sense. So the two nights I spent in the Sawtooths I created my own little camping spots and nobody seemed to care. I met Dale along the way, who had a harley and a moutain bike (see pic). He left home over a year ago for a 3 day weekend and hasn't been back. Us road hobos can spot each other a mile away.

I had an inflamed toe on Thursday and took the day off to create some special art photos of me for the ranger. On Friday I hit the trail at Iron Creek. The Forest Service was pretty adamant about not letting people hike, they even shut down the road. But I have strong legs and simply walked down the road a bit to get to the trail. Then I had to fill out some sort of permit form for a day hike. There still was lots of snow on the ground so I knew conditions would be at their worst. I chose the high gaiters for the trip which worked well. Idaho, I took care of everything for you, since you are all off hibernating I took the liberty to break trail at Iron Creek. Everything is all set.

I managed to make it about 3 miles up the creek until the stream crossing. I lost the trail due to the high snow so I took a few more art photos and then headed back. I found a deer leg on the trail on the way back which means something put it there, most likely a bear. But I didn't spot him, he probably was around somewhere.

Friday night, at Keith's suggestion, I headed over to the Boise National Forest to soak in some hot springs. I couldn't find the springs that Keith had suggested but I did find some wonderful springs anyway. Boiling Springs are a set of springs that are easy to find and are open to the general public....after Memorial Day. But, again, since I am from a non-hibernating state I decided that I would go to the springs anyway via the trail. I got there early and cleaned up a bit, washed my hair, shaved my pits, and figured someone would come along at any time. I was there for 2 hours and nobody came. Idaho people do not violate any rules, regulations and laws I guess.

I hiked up the Payette River Trail a bit and then decided to head back to the car. I am right outside of Boise now and will be heading west soon.

Here are the pics:

Craters of the Moon, Idaho

6000 years ago there was some volcanic activity in central Idaho. The earth sent some lava to the top and all sorts of things happened, caves were formed, little volcanoes were made and the earth got all crusty. This turned out to be a pretty good park, not too many people were there, the rangers were helpful, I liked it so much I stayed the night at the campground.

I did a little bit of night hiking which was cool, I was all alone with the volcanoes. Something you probably don't know about me is that I have a big problem with claustrophobia. Hence, most types of spelunking for me is out of the question. I hate this about myself but there is nothing I can do about it. Fortunately, a few of the caves available were the size of Fred Flinstone's church, so I was okay especially since there was a lot of sunlight and openings.

Bunsen Peak Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

There aren't many good climbing mountains at Yellowstone. Since the southern trails are all closed because of the bears I had to find something up north to amuse me. I choose Bunsen Peak because I figured it would be climbable even with snow on the top. It rises about 1400 feet from the parking area and is a relatively easy climb. Once you get near the top you lose the trail in the snow so you get to make your own trail which is fun. At the top are a bunch of very ugly radio transmitter things that look like a boyscout ham radio project gone awry. I bet most of it doesn't work.

Also at the top is a tiny little creature that does the best yogi routine around. He's almost as good as the mouse on the peak of Halfmoon lookout. He weaseled a whole bunch of crackers from me. Since the big fire of 88, many of the pine tree trunks are still down but several Charlie Brown Christmas trees are replacing them. In a few years this place will like it once did and will be set for another fire. There weren't many people on the trail, again, Yellowstone is not necessarily a park for hikers.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone is not a hiker's park. There are no big mountains or elaborate trail system. This is more a park about geysers and animals. This is a great park if you are white, own a $50,000 SUV and don't wish to walk more than 100 feet with your expensive camera. I guess these folks have to vacation somewhere, but I can find better places. 25 years ago on my last trip, my friend and I stayed one night in the park and then got frustrated with all the people and gridlock, so we left. This time it wasn't high season so I had more patience, a tiny bit more patience but not much. There were fewer people and a lot more bison. The bison feel they own the place which is the way it should be. People seem to be on their best behavior. There are lots of things boiling out of the ground. The roads in the park to the south are still closed because the bears are doing things and moving around. They, apparently, don't like people.

People use their big expensive cameras to take nice pictures. Crapass was feeling a little underloved and is starting to make a strange noise but still took plenty of pics. Some of them are a little fuzzy.

I can only assume the rangers at Yellowstone and Teton are forced to attend the Dick Cheney School of Public Relations because they are rude and useless. The VCs don't open until 9AM which is way too late for me. However, I can't say enough good things about all the people who work for Xanterra, the company that runs the hotels and concessions. All their employees seem to have a firm grip on the English language and will bend over backward for you.

At the north entrance of the park is an arch that says, "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People". It should really say, "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of SOME of the People". While I was there I saw only one black person, no Latinos, no Indians and the only Asians I saw were from a tour group from Asia. One would never know that the United States of America was a melting pot if you visited Yellowstone National Park. This place could do much better.


Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming....My very worst nightmare comes true

It was a long afternoon.

Normally in the upper left hand corner of my post is a beautiful landscape, like this one.

So why am I posting a fuzzy picture of two brown lumps on my blog? Anyone who has been backpacking with me in the last year knows that I have only one fear in life and that is coming upon mama grizzly bear and baby bear on a hiking trail alone in the wilderness. Well, gang, here it is.

Let me tell you the whole story from the beginning. I was down in the dumps because I couldn't be back in Maryland with the Mountain Club doing my very best to give Lisa and Karen a run for their money at HAM tomorrow. It killed me to have to give up my spot in the "event" in order to come out west on this trip. I thought to myself this morning that I hope I was able to have something really spectacular happen to make up for my absence.

Today was Grand Teton day, I got started late. As I was driving from Jackson to the park I decided I was hungry so I ate a package of salmon. I wanted to drink the salmon juice in the package and aimed incorrectly and the smelly juice spilled all over my shirt. I changed my shirt but I still stunk like a salmon cannery. I drove around the park and took some pictures. I knew the trails would be covered with snow so I didn't expect to get far. I got into an argument with the ranger at the VC so I wasn't able to get any good hiking information there. I decided I would just find the steepest trail in the park and go as far as I could. I found the Lupine Meadows Trailhead and set forth trying to climb Grand Teton in the snow. The area has only been open for 4 days this year so I didn't expect to get far.

I got about 2.5 miles up, about 1500 feet of elevation change but there was a lot of snow so I aborted the mission and decided to descend. I met a guy named Rex(see pic) on the way down. We had a funny conversation about me stinking of salmon. He said he saw a black bear on a trail once and screamed "Bear" continually to frighten him off. Rex continued up and I continued down. I took a nice picture of a badger-like mammal(see pic) and then I came upon a turkey-like bird(see pic). I got real close to the turkey-bird and the bird didn't seem frightened. It was watching something else on the trail. Curious, I looked around. The trail was about to switchback, on the lower trail was a big-assed bear about 100 feet way from me. I thought, "Neat, a bear, I hope it doesn't have a baby bear with it." I looked around again, there was baby bear.

I thought again, "Oh Shit". I backed up and hid behind a tree. My apologies for the fuzzy pictures but there was no way in hell I was getting closer to the two of them. There were two tiny problems with the situation. The bears were standing directly on the hiking trail which I needed to use to get down off the mountain. The second problem was my Eau de Salmon.

The bears hung out for a few minutes eating plants and drinking from the stream. Me and turkey-bird stood still watching. I snapped as many pictures as I could fiddling with my camera praying the flash wouldn't go off. I got maybe three good ones as there were more than a few bushes in the way. The bears decided to go down the trail into a dark grove of trees. Unfortunately, I needed to go down the same trail into the same grove of trees. I waited about 10 minutes and decided to try Rex's bear scream approach. So I start screaming, "Bear, Bear, Bear". Things were going well the first 50 feet into the dark grove of trees. But as I walked slowly and screamed "Bear" really loud at one point I heard a heck of a loud noise, branches breaking, things scurrying and a glimpse of bear ass running in the opposite direction from me about 20 feet away. Out of all the grizzly bears available, I get the one that needs a hearing aid.

Oddly enough, I did not experience an adrenaline rush. I guess I have had so many close calls lately with rattlers and East Baltimore hoodlums that a startled grizzly bear and her cub is now a walk in the park(literally) for me. I handle all of these difficult situations the same way. I hold my head held high and walk confidently away as if I own the place. This approach worked well, I have never hiked so fast back up a trail in my life, you hamsters would be proud.

Then I sat down and thought about what to do and hoped that Rex was going to come down the mountain soon. Hiking down the trail with another person would up my chances of survival by 50%. Rex eventually came down the mountain and we hiked down the trail together. Rex was upset because he didn't get to see the grizzly bears. Rex and I are both living in our minivans so we got to contrast and compare notes.

When I told Ranger John about my adventure and after he quit laughing he said, "Babe, I think you need to buy a can of bear spray." Gotta love him. At least I didn't end up like these guys did earlier in the week.

Tomorrow I go to Yellowstone. I am no longer afraid of grizzly bears.


Dinosaur National Monument, Utah/Colorado

25 years ago when I took my first cross country trip I told a professor at my university my plans. He suggested I visit the Dinosaur National Monument, but we couldn't fit it into our schedule. Better late than never.

First I had to take a shower because I stank, but nobody was home at the trailer park in Dinosaur. So I took a shower anyway and put $3 in the mailbox, I have no idea whether they sold showers or not. I got to the eastern section(Colorado) of Dinosaur first and did the driving tour. I really enjoyed it, the little booklet talked about geology, history and the park. It was worth the read. I was the only person there, I took a nap at the overlook and ended up sleeping for 3 hours because there was no one to wake me up.

Then I went for coffee at the Bedrock Depot and met Bill (see pic). Bill is a photographer and he gave me a beautiful card of one of his photographs. Here is his site. We talked about how all the parks were managed differently, some were clean, some dirty, some get funding, some don't. Then I hit the western section of the park(Utah) and learned some more stuff, saw some Petroglyphs and, thankfully, got the lavender shoes dirty.

I am now in Vernal, Utah heading north into Wyoming. Tetons here I come.

Here is the slideshow:

Colorado River, Colorado National Monument

Here I was going off the Germans and I ended up having dinner with one of the nicest Austrians on the planet on Tuesday. I met Dieter (no pic) back in Torrey, UT and he showed up a day later in Moab. We had pizza and discussed politics, computers and the money matters. So I put a disclaimer on this blog, I don't catagorize Austrians with Germans.

Tuesday night it rained slightly then the wind picked up. The dirt stuck to the rain droplets on the minivan making it look like it has smallpox. I headed east on Utah Route 128 along the Colorado River, and that route was spectacular. I took a bunch of pics so please enjoy. Then I arrived at the Colorado National Monument where there were nice steep hiking trails. I believe I was on the Monument Canyon Trail, I will confirm that later. It descends about 1500 feet in the first half mile which is nice but I think the trail is a tad overmaintained. It could be more difficult.

Once I arrived at the valley floor I met Tom and Amy who lived nearby but had moved out from Virginia a few years ago. We had a nice discussion about the evils of corporate American and Elk hunting. I now know a lot more about hunting elk than I did before. Thanks guys!

There were many pretty flowers and I got involved in taking pictures of them. I also saw another neat lizard type thing (perhaps I should improve my species knowledge). I also noticed my shoes match the pretty flowers. Once I got done at the Colorado Monument I drove into Grand Junction to resupply at the Wal-Mart. You might want to skip Grand Junction if you go to this area, it looks like there is a serious meth problem there, the meth heads have taken over the city park. Very creepy.